#NotAgainSU

I’m usually one of many words, but I don’t have a lot to say right now, because I don’t really know what to say.

As you may or may not know, I graduated from Hampton University in May. Upon graduation, I decided to continue my education and pursue my Master’s Degree. As I’ve previously said, I went to an HBCU for undergrad. My recommendation to college students looking to pursue more than one degree: go to an HBCU for one degree, and a PWI for the other – for the benefit of having both experiences. I’d never recommend anything I, myself wouldn’t do, which is why I decided on Syracuse University in Upstate New York for my second degree. Why I chose it and all that good stuff, I’ll save for a rainy (or snowy) day. I’m writing, today, to discuss the one fear of mine while attending a Predominately White Institution:

Racism.

Now, of course everywhere you go, there’s racism, but I’m talking blatant racism. The kind that’s seen on Netflix’s Dear White People, which I feel like I’ve been trapped in for the last few days. As reported on CNN, within the last week, there has been graffiti spotted on campus twice – once targeting Blacks and another targeting Asians. A few hours ago, a swastika was spotted, drawn in snow outside of an apartment complex where many students reside.

Though I attended an HBCU, I’m no stranger to racism as my first encounter with him was when I was in the first grade. I’m not writing to bash PWIs or its students for not attending HBCUs but this is reality – and it sucks. It’s sad. We’re in a time warp and keep watching history repeat itself. As a PWI student, I’m frustrated that administration doesn’t care and continues to release statements to save face. I don’t feel safe.

“These acts are vile and appalling, and they will not be tolerated,” said Syracuse mayor Ben Walsh.

It’s clear that this is being tolerated, as students have created the hashtag #NotAgainSU, because this obviously isn’t the first time that racist incidents have occurred on this PWI campus, or any. Students have staged a sit-in for the last two consecutive days, which the chancellor attended for five minutes, and left. Last night, students protested the basketball game, resulting in a nearly empty student section. IMG_1020

This university will not sweep this – sweep US – under the rug. I stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters fighting for a change. We will continue to protest until change is seen. Stay safe, everyone. Keep your mental health intact. I won’t be here for long, but I, too, demand a more inclusive, safer and overall diverse campus. Our voices won’t be silenced.

Update: this blog was posted two minutes ago and the student body just received yet another email, about yet another incident. Grafitti in a dorm, again targeting the Asian community.

What Should you do when You’re Stopped by the Police?

I haven’t blogged in a while, because…life. Anyway, I knew I’d make another post when the time was right or the right words came to mind, and that time is now.

 

What should you do when you’re stopped by the police?

It’s 2019 and history still continues to repeat itself. It seems like we’re still stuck in 1992: LA Riots, Rodney King, you know the rundown. In 2016, I wrote two blog posts: the first about being Black in America and dealing with police brutality and the second was essentially a continuation of the first post. The interesting thing is, I could copy and paste either of those posts and they’d be as good as new.

I am completely and wholeheartedly serious when I say that I am fearful of the lives of my older brothers, friends, and my father’s life. My brothers and friends are college educated, in addition to one of my brothers SERVING THIS COUNTRY, and my father who is a former POLICE OFFICER, but the funny thing – that is far from funny – is, no matter how great of people they may be, and what they do, no one is safe.

…That was an excerpt from the second blog post. As you continue to read, the irony is crippling.

In the journalism world, that’s called an evergreen piece – one that’ll always be relevant. I’m not proud that three years later these posts are deemed as such. I’m enraged. I’m enraged that Black men are still being gunned down at the hands of those who swore to “serve and protect.” I’m enraged that there seems to be a new hashtag with a Black man’s name behind it every time I log onto Twitter or Facebook. I’m __________ that…that could’ve been me or one of my family members.

What should you do when you’re stopped by the police?

Less than 12 hours ago, my parents and I left the movies after seeing a late showing of Men in Black. Conversing about a variety of things, we get in the car and prepare to leave. As I’m buckling my seatbelt, I see red and blue lights directly behind our vehicle. I felt my heart and my stomach fall into the seatbelt buckle. I’d always been told by my father, a 30-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department, to remain calm, cooperate, record the encounter, etc. That’s what you do if you’re stopped by the police.

While trying to suppress my anxiety in the back seat, I watched my father do everything he’d taught me. I won’t go into too much detail because it doesn’t hold the slightest of relevance, but he “stopped” us because we were in handicapped parking, and rightfully so, as my mother possesses a handicap placard. He sat in his scout car for God knows how long – waiting for us to come out of an hour and 55-minute movie. The officer was just as rude, arrogant and privileged as you’d imagine.

What should you do when you’re stopped by the police?

My father asked what we were being stopped for, as he – WE – had a right to know. He said my dad was giving him attitude. He stated that he’d never gotten “this much attitude” from another officer. He told my dad that he “knew better.” He didn’t know if my dad was a “threat.” Listening in awe, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing but at the same time, I believed it 100 percent.

A thought ran across my mind:

When #BlackLivesMatter began to blow up, it was combatted with #BlueLivesMatter. What happens when the two intersect?

Nothing. Neither one matters when the latter is associated with the preceding hashtag.

What should you do when you’re stopped by the police? What do you do when you apply every little thing you’ve learned and it’s not good enough? WHAT DO YOU DO?!

There’s a blank in the first paragraph of this post: reference it, if you need to. After hours of replaying the longest, unsettling 5 minutes and 57 seconds in my mind (and in my phone) – I still can’t tell you how I feel. Confused? Infuriated? Stuck? I could throw synonyms of emotional words at you for the next 5 minutes and 57 seconds and they’d be an accumulation of a feeling that too many Blacks have experienced. I always felt some type of way seeing these posts, videos and headlines coming across my timeline. This was a different feeling, though. This wasn’t me watching a video on Twitter or reposting a follower’s outrage of a new hashtag. This was me. In real life. Praying that I, my mother, or my father wouldn’t be the next hashtag.

So, again I ask, what should you do when you’re stopped by the police?

 

 

My answer: I don’t know.

 

“To be a negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” – James Baldwin

Travel Blog #26: Last Day

Hey!

It’s my last full day here in Beijing. What an experience it’s been.

Day 26: the closing ceremony was this morning and as I mentioned earlier, I was selected to give a speech. It went really well! When the ceremony ended, many of the teachers, students and even the director of the international office told me I did an amazing job! Three students including myself gave speeches about their experience. One student even told me that I was the best speech of the morning – now that, had me SHOOK. I’ll likely post the video to my Facebook page when I get home and eventually on my YouTube channel, when I do, you’ll know.

Also, I received my report card from my class and I got an A+ in my language class and an A in my culture class. I’m super proud of myself!!!

When we left the ceremony, Veronica, Chelsea, Megan and I went to a canteen Megan had recently discovered and the rest of us never knew about. Y’all. Why was this one of the best meals I’ve had while in China. WHY was this just discovered on my LAST. DAY. We all got hot pots which is a dish where you can select meat, vegetables and rice that’ll be cooked for you fresh, and it’s served to you in a sizzling skillet, so it’s still cooking a little. It was delicious. I know they say, ‘all good things must come to an end,’ but I didn’t think that meant good things don’t come until the end – ugh! After lunch, we took naps, of course. For dinner we went to a Peking duck restaurant. You can’t go to Beijing and not try Peking duck, okay. It’s great.

It’s almost time for me to end this travel blog series, because my travels will be over tomorrow.

Until then,

再见 (Bye)!

Kyla

Travel Blog #25: Final

Good Morning!

It’s final exam day.

Day 25: I don’t know why I’m so nervous – but I am. Maybe because I feel like I should’ve retained more information than I did, and now I have to put it all out there and get graded on speaking a language I’ve only known for four weeks! It was now or never. Chelsea and I performed our dialogue and it went well! Let’s hope I get a really good grade, too. Getting an A in this class would look amazing on my transcript!

After the final, Veronica, Danielle, Chelsea, and I went to the silk market again. We went with our classmate, Megan, who’s from Ireland. I got some of my last, last minute souvenirs. I’m so satisfied with everything I got for myself and everyone else! One of my favorite parts about traveling is getting souvenirs because they’re reminders of a great place you once went, or that someone thought of you when they went somewhere – so much to bring you something back.

Side note: I tried bubble tea today! I got mango flavor, and it wasn’t bad! I’ll have to get some at home and compare the two.

After hours and hours of shopping, we finally made it back to our rooms. Some of our classmates asked if we wanted to go out with them, celebrating that we’d finished the program. The biggest catch of this was that since we would have to be back by midnight and the doors to the building didn’t open again until 6am, we’d stay out until then. So, you know what I did, right?

I politely declined, stayed in and packed. LOL

The closing ceremony is tomorrow! (Ahh!)

再见 (Bye)!

Kyla

Travel Blog #24: Winding Down

Greetings!

This week is zooming by! We’re already halfway through. Happy Hump Day!

Day 24: today was pretty laid back, as the week is winding down. Chelsea is my partner for the final exam, which is tomorrow. It’s an oral exam and we have to have a 2-3 minute dialogue completely in Chinese.

Tomorrow is the last day of class, so today we had a photoshoot with all of the classes combined. How amazing is that! After our class today, Danielle, Veronica, Chelsea and I went to a market called the Honqaio Market. It’s similar to the silk market, but smaller. I got some last minute souvenirs of course, because what girl doesn’t love shopping? For dinner, we ate KFC, and it’s nothing like home. Not in a good way.

T-Minus 3 days!

再见 (Bye)!

Kyla

Travel Blog #23: Ready

Hello again!

Day 23: at this point in the trip, you can tell everyone is ready to go. People are getting sick, and my teacher isn’t really teaching anymore. Veronica woke up with a sore throat and I woke up with a headache, again. We had to miss our morning class. We went to the canteen for lunch, then we made it to the afternoon session. Our final exam is on Thursday. In class, we just asked our teacher questions in Chinese, to practice speaking in full sentences.

Here’s another [never-before-seen, unrelated to this post] picture:

After class, my teacher had me talk to her about my speech I’m giving Friday and she wants me to write it out. I’m glad I love writing speeches! Later on, Veronica, Chelsea, Danielle and I went to the supermarket on campus to get some groceries that’ll hopefully last us until we depart later this week.

Four days and counting!

再见 (Bye)!

Kyla

Travel Blog #22: Aching

Good Evening!

The week is winding down and every day seems pretty similar, to be honest.

Day 22: Last night I had a headache and a stomachache, so I took some medicine and went to bed. When I woke up, I felt exactly the same. The pain was so bad, that I couldn’t get up and go to my morning class. I laid down for a few more hours then finally got up to go to lunch in the canteen (something that probably wouldn’t help my stomach. *sigh* )

After lunch, I went to our afternoon class session because I was feeling a little better. Our teacher taught us some Chinese songs and dances and it was really fun! I even got up and did a dance with the teacher and Funsho. I suffered after, though, my head instantly started hurting again. After class, my teacher asked me to be one of three speakers at our graduation on Friday. Isn’t that exciting?! I can’t wait.

Now that I’m thinking about it, let me go prepare this speech.

再见 (Bye)!

Kyla

Travel Blog #20 & #21: Laid Back

Hey hey!

It’s officially the weekend and it’s officially one week until I go home! This weekend was very laid back, SO laid back that I have to combine the Saturday and Sunday blog posts together.

Day 20: let’s start off with the fact that I didn’t get out of the bed until 1:30. I was SO tired from the Great Wall and I just couldn’t move. After finally getting up, Veronica and I went to the canteen. It was closed. We’ve never been told the hours, so how’d we know if it closed and reopened, and when that occurred? We sadly went back to our room and ate snacks. It was entirely too hot to walk anywhere else. We slept some more, then woke up and decided to go out for dinner. We went to the same place we went earlier in the week, “Lush.” After we got back to our room, we just sat in, talked and watched YouTube videos. I’ll tell you one thing, this trip has definitely grown our friendship. We knew each other from a quiz bowl competition we did together, as we were teammates. I truly appreciate this trip for turning my roommate into a great friend!

Side note: these are random pictures that I’ve taken throughout the trip because of course I didn’t take pictures on these two boring days, lol.

Day 21: another weekend, another sleep-in. We woke up and Danielle was already at the canteen so she brought Veronica and I carry out orders back to our room. For dinner, we went to the canteen and got to-go orders, again. I’m pretty sure this weekend goes down in history for the most boring weekend, ever. Especially while abroad. At this point we’re just tired, though and sometimes we all just need rest.

Let’s see what this last week brings!

再见 (Bye)!

Kyla

Travel Blog #19: Greatness

Ni hao, friends!

We’ve officially been on our last field trip, so you know this journey is coming to an end. Let me tell you, the trip was GREAT. Can you guess where we went?

Day 19: I can now officially say I’ve climbed the Great Wall of China! What an experience. The temperature was supposed to be 95 degrees, but luckily for once, I was glad that it rained before, because it cooled down. Upon arrival, we took a group picture, followed by, you guessed it – strangers taking pictures of us.

After photoshoots from every angle, it was time. I looked up at thousands of stairs. My heart nearly stopped. I don’t think I was prepared for this! I purposely wore comfortable clothes and gym shoes, brought water, but I didn’t know if it was enough, BUT it was now or never. I took my first 50 steps or so and I started to feel the burn. The thing about the Great Wall is, the stairs

1. Aren’t even

2. Are different sizes

3. Are slightly shaky

Imagine that combination in about 90 degree weather with high humidity, asthma and surrounded by thousands of people! Somehow I lost Veronica along the way but Chelsea, Danielle and I continuously took breaks to drink water, take pictures, and of course, pace ourselves.

Veronica made it to the top! Unfortunately the other three of us didn’t. But that’s okay! We made it to the staircase right before the top and I was more than satisfied with that. I mean, I can still say I climbed the Great Wall of China!! Plus I have a shirt that says so, too 🙂

It was a great day! Definitely my favorite and most memorable field trip while here in Beijing. The most tiring, too.

I’ll let you all know when I wake up, lol!

再见 (Bye)!

Kyla

Travel Blog #18: Great Deals

Hello!

I’m readily counting down my days here and still trying to enjoy myself at the same time – what a task!

Day 18: I always like Thursdays because we only have our morning class session, so we usually use that time to explore the city. After our morning session going over basic Chinese greetings and sayings, Veronica, Chelsea, Danielle and I went to the silk market on Silk Street. The silk market is where you can get souvenirs, name brand clothes (real and fake, so be careful), and anything in between.

One of the major keys of going to any market in China – BARGAINING! (Pay attention to signs that say no bargaining though, they’re serious.) When bargaining they will start high, and you go low! There was an item that I wanted, but it was 890 yuan. Of course I’m not paying that. Here’s how the conversation went:

Her: 890

Me: no, no

Her: 700

Me: nooooo

Her: because I like you, 450

Me: I have 100 yuan

Her: no! Too low!

Me: sorry..

Her: 200 because you’re a student

Me: nope, too high. 100

Her: 150

Me: *walking away*

Her: *grabs my arm* okay okay 100!

Annnnnd that’s how you do it! Obviously that was an amazing price, especially because 100 yuan converted back to US dollars is $16. Awesome! Bargaining is and was so fun. So fun that I spent all of the money I brought lol! Luckily, I kept some money back in my room. I got some great stuff for great prices, so we’re definitely going back this weekend or next week before going home. We took the subway back and biked back to campus. It was great exercise and so convenient! All you had to do was scan the QR code on the bike and go! It only costed 3 yuan. Great prices all day!

This was definitely one of my favorite things we’ve done thus far.

再见 (Bye)!

Kyla